WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she is comfortable in her position as President Barack Obama's top diplomat and has been consistently involved in foreign policy decisions.
"I broke my elbow, not my larynx," she said, referring to the fractured elbow that kept her out of the limelight for a month.
Speaking with reporters at the State Department after meetings with the foreign ministers of Canada and Mexico, Clinton delivered the line with a straight face, seeming miffed at widespread speculation that she has lost influence in the Obama administration.
"I have been consistantly involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy and I am off to India and Thailand tonight," Clinton said stonily. She added that when she returns from the week-long, around-the-world trip she will have a full slate of meetings and other travel.
In recent weeks, foreign policy analysts and experts have questioned Clinton's influence with Obama, noting that the president himself, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and others have taken on increasing diplomatic responsibilities. Her absence due to the elbow injury – which forced her to curtail her normally vigorous schedule, compounded that speculation.
After returning to the public eye Wednesday with a widely publicized speech, Clinton said she did not pay much attention to the rumors and that her relationships with the White House and Obama himself are fine.
"I am just going to do the work and make a contribution," she said. "I feel very honored and positive about my working relationship with the White House and my personal relationship with President Obama."
At the same time, she repeated her frustration with the slow pace at which appointments to senior administration positions were being made, citing a burdensome and overlong vetting process for candidates. But she said that was government-wide problem and not just a State Department issue.
"I think it is pretty obvious that the process could not be much more complicated cumbersome and lengthy and that is something that I hear from everyone," Clinton said. "It is a matter that I think we're going to have to address."